Talking Tactics: Everton (A) FA Cup Quarter-Final
Up bright and early? Then what better way to start your week with some Talking Tactics?
Sunderland produced another inspiring performance on the road, ensuring that they were still in the hat/bag/tombola for the next round.
Unfortunately, we don't have any pretty pictures as our sources take a well-earned rest on Cup weekends, but we do have a few observations that went some way to determining the outcome of Saturday's game.
Anyway, enough of all this: here's Talking Tactics...
The main decision for Martin O'Neill was whether to start Nicklas Bendtner - who had been substituted against Liverpool due to a knee injury - or to accommodate an extra midfielder instead. Bendtner started, alongside Fraizer Campbell, indicating Sunderland's intentions from the outset. Elsewhere, Wayne Bridge came in for the injured Kieran Richardson whilst Jack Colback continued in midfield as Lee Cattermole remains suspended.
former Rangers man. With both teams using variations of 4-4-2 it set up for a very even contest.
Pass De Ball To De Left Hand Side
Having gained experience playing at right-back, Seamus Coleman provided a buffer for Phil Neville against the foraging James McClean. Yet McClean was still able to attack Neville, resulting in the full-back being booked for fouling McClean inside 10 minutes. From then on, Sunderland looked to exploit the advantage of having an opposition player already sanctioned, which saw McClean deliver an excellent cross which needed a Slyvain Distin intervention to prevent the ball finding an unmarked Campbell in the six-yard box.
McClean kept at his task, which saw him win several corners down the side where Sunderland fans were housed. With Wayne Bridge still learning how to play football again at left-back, it became apparent during this spell that he was slow to recognise overlap opportunities. Bridge offered support from deeper areas - which indicated that there is still indecisiveness to his play.
Jack The Lad
Colback looked assured in a midfield which started brightly, and then stood strong as Everton pressure grew in the second half. In an out-and-out 2 vs 2 midfield battle Colback thrived competing against Marouane Fellaini and his tenacity in the middle of the park was significant in Sunderland gaining the upper hand in the opening 20 minutes.
Colback's presence at set-piece opportunities in the opening exchanges (stood alongside Seb Larsson as an alternative taker) failed to prepare Everton for Sunderland's opener. Having set up for another cross into the box, Colback rolled the dead ball inside to Phil Bardsley, who hammered home.
One thing we can count on from whoscored.com this week is that Colback is profiled as a player who ‘gets fouled often' - his composure in possession not only buys him, and his side, time but also frustrates the opposition into pressure-relieving fouls.
After starting the game brightly, it became apparent that Sunderland would lack the fluidity that their counter-attacking system has most recently shown.
This was highlighted by Royston Drenthe's ability to create momentum for the hosts once they had cleared their lines - portrayed best by two sweeping cross-field passes that instantly put his side on the front foot. Generally, Bendtner did well to hold up any Sunderland clearances, but without Sessegnon's ability to complete the transition from defence to attack the visitor's were slow to break out after the interval.
Perhaps this is where David Vaughan could have been brought on sooner, as the Welshman is adept at not only holding on to the ball but also a positive-thinking passer.
All-in-all it was another performance that you couldn't help feel proud of. Everton has beaten Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham at home in recent weeks so for Sunderland not to wilt under the pressure put on them in the second half was most pleasing. Sure, the Black Cats rode their luck - the old cliché dictates you need to do so in cup competitions - but they more than played their part in a good old-fashioned cup tie.
One slight concern was the delay in bringing Vaughan on, at a time where Sunderland needed to hold on to possession far better than they did, and perhaps the withdrawal of Campbell's pace when his willingness to chase had just drawn a yellow card challenge from Distin. Having left Goodsion Park with a draw though, we can save these things for the replay.
A big pat on the back for Simon Mignolet's excellent double save, both central defenders for proving to be solid once more and it's on to Ewood Park tomorrow night for another game where TT will be back, pictures included. Damned FA Cup!